What is legal basis for rent reduction policy?
The following letter was written by several East Side elected officials to Darryl C. Towns, commissioner and CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal on the housing agency’s policy towards rent reductions for losses of services like those experienced in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. (The letter, though addressed to the HCR, refers to it as DHCR, its predecessor agency.)
Dear Commissioner Towns:
We are writing to request clarification of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s (DHCR) rent reduction policy with respect to tenants who experience a diminution of services, and to highlight an imminent issue in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village (ST-PCV).
We are concerned that the DHCR’s policy is incompatible with the Rent Stabilization Code (RSC), and runs the risk of denying tenants compensation to which they may be entitled. Specifically, we seek clarification about a serious discrepancy between the DHCR’s stated policy on rent reduction effective dates and the RSC as it pertains to applications for Rent Reductions for Decreased Services recently filed by hundreds of ST-PCV residents in approximately 110 buildings, who are represented by the ST-PCV Tenants Association.
As you know, these ST-PCV residents filed applications on February 26, 2013 for rent reductions due to loss of services during and after Hurricane Sandy. The lost amenities include loss of trunk storage service, security systems, laundry room services, bicycle and carriage room storage, elevator service and building intercom services.
Section 2523.4(a)(1) of the RSC provides that “the DHCR shall … reduce the rent for the period for which it is found that the owner has failed to maintain required services.” Of course, application of this provision is predicated on the DHCR finding that services in fact have not been maintained, but in the event of such a finding, it is clear that any rent reduction should be effective for the entire period for which the services have not been maintained.
However, it is apparently the DHCR’s practice, as stated in its Fact Sheet #14: Rent Reductions for Decreased Services, that “The effective date for rent stabilized tenants is retroactive back to the first day of the month following DHCR’s service of the complaint on the owner.”
We do not understand why the DHCR’s practice is inconsistent with the RSC. If tenants are denied contractually obligated services, neither logic nor the RSC supports limiting their remedy to the period after the DHCR has had time to serve notice on the owner.
We are particularly concerned with the rent reduction applications recently filed by ST-PCV residents and currently pending before the DHCR. We understand that the DHCR has indicated that it may take several weeks to process these applications, which could delay the start date of any approved reductions even further under the agency’s stated practice.
In light of these serious concerns, we must ask: (1) When do you expect to present ST-PCV management with the rent reduction claims? (2) What is the legal basis for the policy regarding effective dates found in the fact sheet?
Given the time sensitive nature of the ST-PCV applications, and the importance of this issue to the people we represent, we ask that you respond promptly to these questions. If you would like to discuss this matter, please feel free to contact any of us directly. If you would like to arrange a meeting or conference call, Anna Pycior in Assemblymember Kavanagh’s office is available to help arrange one. We hope to hear from you soon.
Brian Kavanagh, State Assembly Member
Daniel R. Garodnick, City Council Member
Carolyn B. Maloney, U.S. Representative
Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan Borough President
I’m a FiOS convert (since there’s no choice)
To the Editor:
I want to raise an issue that will eventually, likely soon, affect ST/PCV residents who have Verizon telephone landlines.
I recently received a message from Verizon asking me to call and make an appointment to convert to FiOS, their fiber optic service. When I spoke to customer service I was told that Verizon is in the process of converting the entire neighborhood to FiOS fiber optic telephone lines. In fact, there will be no choice on this.
According to customer service, we will no longer be able to keep the current Verizon copper wire connections (which I’d point out was the only thing that worked during Hurricane Sandy), and that Verizon will send out letters to all customers asking that they set up an appointment to convert to FiOS. When that letter arrives, customers will have 21 days to convert to FiOS or their service will be terminated!
I have multiple concerns about moving to FiOS, which will only have an 8 hour battery backup in the event of a power outage. More importantly, residents need to pay attention when this “conversion” letter comes from Verizon. Ignoring the letter will result in no phone service.
Verizon is forcing us to either convert to their new system or choose a new phone carrier. Whether you stay with Verizon and fiber optics or change to another provider, it will be critical to do something when you get the conversion letter. No one wants to wake up on day 22 with no phone service at all.
Jane Roeder, ST
The danger of political parties
Our founders warned us about the dangers of political parties.
We no longer have statesmen loyal to our nation. We have “politicians” loyal only to their party – not to our country!
This has led to the threat of the “sequester.” As we inflict harm on ourselves by being stubborn and not being able to compromise. Absolutely disgusting!
David Chowes, PCV